By Harold Hutchison
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- The recall of Grover Norquist on this year’s NRA Board of Director’s ballot has generated plenty of controversy – with the ongoing debate between David Codrea and Todd Rathner at Ammoland News being one example of this.
As someone who had spent my entire post-college life involved with Second Amendment issues in one way or another – and who was pro-Second Amendment in high school and college – I think that both Codrea and Rathner each have valid grounds for their arguments.
First, in the interests of full disclosure I will note that I worked for the National Rifle Association for a little over nine years. During that time, I had to explain the rationale of decisions, including election endorsements, that upset NRA members. I also had to explain why NRA did not get involved in certain issues.
Rathner is correct that the NRA tries to keep a laser focus on the Second Amendment. I have known co-workers who had differing views on various issues, but we all came together on the Second Amendment. I had a bit of a front-line view as to how that single-issue focus was of benefit. In 1999, after the tragic mass shooting at Columbine High School, it was a Democrat, John Dingell of Michigan, who helped the NRA outmaneuver Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Carolyn McCarthy – among other gun-grabbers – who wanted to effectively end gun shows.
Many NRA members could not understand why NRA repeatedly endorsed Dingell in previous elections. But NRA’s loyalty to Dingell for his support of the Second Amendment paid off in the post-Columbine legislative fight. Today, gun shows still exist as they were. So, when Rathner defends the NRA’s efforts to avoid getting involved in outside issues, he has very valid reasons for doing so.
That said, when it came to campaign finance reform, this was one issue where NRA did get involved. Codrea correctly notes that it was because McCain-Feingold would hamper NRA’s ability to defend our Second Amendment rights. I also can assure readers that the Brady Campaign supported McCain-Feingold for precisely that reason. Don’t take my word for it, listen to what Michael Barnes, the president of the Brady Campaign, was saying in April, 2001, when he admitted that the gun-control group favored passage of McCain-Feingold because it would “much more adversely affect the power of the gun lobby” than the power of the Brady Campaign.
The real question is whether the immigration issue really rises to the same level of threat that McCain-Feingold did. Perhaps the NRA Board of Directors needs to set up a task force to examine the issue more closely. Are Codrea’s claims of “cultural terraforming” legit? Can this be countered without compromising the NRA’s “single issue” approach, like advertising on Spanish-language media? Many of those who watch Telemundo or Univision come from Mexico and Central America.
Those countries have much more restrictive gun laws than the United States – gun laws that have failed to prevent violent crime from skyrocketing to levels that make Chicago and Baltimore look like walks in the park. Univision and Telemundo will not be going away any time soon, so the NRA needs to get in that ball game – particularly when at least 248 counties in 25 states were providing bi-lingual ballots in the 2012 Presidential election, most of them in Spanish.
For NRA to expand into “scoring” votes on immigration (not to mention re-calling Grover Norquist from the NRA Board of Directors), there needs to be more evidence than just some adverse polling data. There not only needs to be clear and convincing evidence of the “cultural terraforming” cited by Codrea, but also that measures short of going beyond the “single issue” mandate of NRA would be utterly ineffective.
From my perspective, the NRA hasn’t even tried to get into Spanish-language media. As such, going beyond the NRA’s “single issue” mandate at this time is the wrong approach.